CFP: Global Frontiers, 15-17 November 2017

Kristin Condotta Lee Discussion

[Concept][Funding][Application and Selection Procedure][Organizers][Website]

  • an interdisciplinary Winter School for doctoral students and early-career postdoctorates, hosted by the Institute for Modern History, University of Tübingen in Germany, 15–17 November 2017
  • featuring a keynote lecture by Dr. Matthew W. Mosca (University of Washington, Seattle), author of the highly acclaimed From Frontier Policy to Foreign Policy: The Question of India and the Transformation of Geopolitics in Qing China(2013).
  • application deadline: 30 June 2017
  • funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Institutional Strategy of the University of Tübingen (ZUK 63)



Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill, 1885. Photograph by D. F. Barry. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 US, LC-DIG-ds-07833.

At the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago on July 12, 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner announced the closing of the United States frontier and "with its going … the first period of American history." It was the unclaimed West, he argued, that distinguished the nation's citizens from their European ancestors, "strip[ping] off the garments of civilization and array[ing] him in the hunting shirt and the moccasin." Now, for the first time in four hundred years, its residents would need to find something beyond "the stubborn American environment" to stimulate their minds and promote their united character.

Despite—or perhaps because of—Turner's remarks, the idea of the frontier has lingered in both popular and scholarly imaginations. Frontier imagery shapes the stories we tell of medieval and early modern European encounters with the Near East, indigenous resistance movements during the 1800s and 1900s, twentieth-century German imperialism, the global Space Race of the 1960s, and, most recently, the PEGIDA movement and the refugee crises of 2015 and 2016. More critically, the concept has pushed us to come to terms with different types of boundaries (geographic, social, racial, ethnic, cultural, etc.) as well as their effectiveness in dividing and uniting populations.

This three-day intensive Winter School is aimed at Ph.D. students and early postdoctorates working on the themes of borders, boundaries, and frontiers with a focus on the fifteenth through twenty-first centuries. It particularly aims to reunite the research of scholars working on these concepts across disciplines, including but not limited to the Arts, Anthropology, Ethnography, Geography, History, Literature, and various Area Studies, and to promote participants' sharing of their practical use of these frameworks in ways not limited by historical periods or spaces.


An akıncı (Ottoman frontier warrior) defeating a Hungarian knight. From a miniature in the Süleymanname (c. 1558). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

We seek proposals for presentations of 20 to 25 minutes in length, which explore demarcations, experiences, and imaginings of the frontier around the globe. Papers may be theoretical in nature or may assess the meanings of these ideas within specific communities. Motivating questions might include:


  • Can we define the frontier? Does this definition carry around the globe and across time?
  • Who can claim the frontier?
  • What is the role of nature along the frontier?
  • Are frontiers best understood as zones of demarcation and separation (borders) or of social and cultural interaction (borderlands)?
  • Are frontiers less—or even unmonitored spaces? Or are they, rather, spaces subject to particular efforts of regulation, disciplining, control, and surveillance—and, if so, by whom?
  • What has been the relationship between the frontier and concepts of civility?
  • How are frontiers imagined in times or regions distant from their actual occurrence?

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The organizers will cover travel costs to/from Tübingen (up to an agreed limit), accommodation and lunches for 10 successful applicants, who will present on their current research projects. An additional 10 individuals will be eligible to receive part-funding as participants.

The working language of the school is English.

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Application and Selection Procedure

The Winter School will offer financial assistance to a maximum of 20 participants. Those interested in joining the program should submit the following documents by email to

  1. a brief CV (max. 2 pages)
  2. a title/abstract of the proposed presentation (max. 500 words)
  3. a cover letter placing the applicant's proposal within their larger research project and identifying their motivations for participating in the program (max. 2 pages)

All documents should be submitted in English, preferably as a single PDF file.

The deadline for applications is Friday, 30 June 2017. Notifications will be made in late July.

Questions can be directed to the conference email provided above or to any of the organizers.

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Daniel Menning, University of Tübingen,

Kristin Condotta Lee, Washington University in St. Louis,

Tobias P. Graf, University of Tübingen/Heidelberg University,


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